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  • Writer's pictureDr. Lisa Gonzales

Words Your Staff Need to Hear

So much has changed with the advent of developing technology that pushes us to do more, work more effectively, and automate as much as possible. Unfortunately, as I often find myself with a device and not focusing 100% of my attention at all times on those around me, the technology has come at a cost. We've become more focused on the "doing" and less on the "how" in a personalized manner than it generations past.

Thinking about technology and the lack of as much of a personal nature as the face-to-face made me wonder - if we focused a bit more of our time on really talking to others, what would they need to hear from us? Granted, I'm in an educational environment so the focus is really on my staff. What words do they need to hear from me?


"I believe in you." "I'm so impressed with your initiative." "Nothing can stop you now!"

How important it is for us to let our staff know that we believe in them. From the school secretary who answers phones and greets all who enter the office doors with a smile to a first year teacher whose optimism is palpable but who can struggle with those first year challenges of classroom management and working with critical is so important to tell your team that you believe in them.

Sometimes we need to believe in the abilities our teammates have, even when they struggle. Other times, it is when we know they can rise to the next level with just a little encouragement. And when we tell them we believe in them, if that little light bulb goes off in their eyes and they realize the value of what has been shared, the chances are good that the wonderful feeling they get from the experience will be passed on to others that they can touch as well. Over time, imagine how the culture of a school or district can be changed!

A Greater Purpose.

"You're really going places and I'll always be there to help you." "I can see greatness in you!" "Have you ever thought of being a teacher?"

We often have times when we feel we're at the top of our game. Other times, we are on the opposite end and feel like nothing is going right. Guess what? Our staff feel like that too, even the most confident amongst us. For newer team members, the demands can be greater and the chance of self-doubt stronger. Letting others know you believe they can do the job, they are the right people for the job, and you are there to help can make a world of difference.

I recall a conversation with a dear mentor about five years ago. I was spinning in doubt and she kept reminding me of what can be learned from failure, and how I had a chance to really make a difference if I looked at a challenge as an opportunity. By taking the time for the verbal (or written) pick-me-ups. we are able to mentor, challenge, encourage and help create a sense of purpose in the individuals and the work.

Ask Me Why.

It may seem difficult, but think about what improvement can take place in an environment when questions are asked, respectfully of course. By creating an work place or a school where the focus is in the form of a question, soliciting the input of others can bring out the best in a team and an organization. They can be asked for the sake of improvement and clarification. Questions can also break down walls and invite others in as partners, breaking down silos and other hidden or not so hidden boundaries.

When we support and serve others from an altruistic perspective, we begin to rewire how we think. The same goes for questioning others...and ourselves.

What words or phrases are part of your repertoire of reflection and self-awareness? And what works can you do to start off a new year on a positive and ride that momentum through the course of the next twelve months? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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